President Barron grieves with community over shooting in Wisconsin

August 28, 2020

The Aug. 23 shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of unarmed Black man Jacob Blake is again a tragic, excessive and preventable statement on the unjust treatment of people of color in our country. While an investigation is underway in that city and protesters demand accountability, the rest of our nation hurts and waits. Waits for words of explanation. Waits for justice to prevail. Waits for overdue action to address the ongoing systemic racism and bias that has caused far too much violence.    

As the list of Black victims continues to grow, the fear and sadness felt by people of color is profound, and the frustration and anger are palpable. Please know that many, many Penn Staters grieve with you and want a halt to violence that targets others because of the color of their skin. I remain deeply concerned about the trauma these devastating acts create within our Black community as we hear again of the death or serious injury of people of color — our fellow human beings. It should go without saying that we stand with those who demand justice and accountability. We, too, demand change and our hearts ache for our communities of color, as we see the impact these tragedies take on every individual.  

Penn State has a critical role to play in achieving a more just and equitable society, and university. I would like everyone in our community to know that Penn State acknowledges the need to better model inclusivity, more fully embrace the power that diversity represents, and build upon the promise we offer as a world-class public research university to model and lead change. These aspirations are among our highest priorities, reflected in important initiatives like those announced in June, which have my highest attention. The recent news only underscores the importance of these and other efforts we have set forth.  

Please know that we are listening, learning and continuing to work to address racism and prejudice. These tragic events must stop. We must stand up for what is right and change what is wrong in our everyday lives. I challenge myself and others to do better as an individual, as a University, as a community, as a society. This will take hard work and perseverance. This will take collective resolve.   

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the 1963 March on Washington, D.C.; a reminder that we have much to live up to. We have much work to do. 

Eric J. Barron

President, Penn State

Last Updated April 15, 2021